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Tough, Painful Days

My goal with the new year was to be a bit more entertaining as a writer. It is hard to think about being entertaining when I'm sitting on a "gel pad" cushion with one foot elevated and typing with one eye closed. Any humor at that point is unintentional.

I'm not doing well this week. Something is wrong with my left foot, so I'm limping again. I used the cane last night. My right eye isn't working either. With headaches, back and shoulder pain, blood loss, and more, I need a break.

Pain won Tuesday night. I crashed and didn't crawl out of bed until 11 am on Wednesday. It is frustrating when my body fails me because the pain starts to interfere with thinking clearly.

I tolerate the physical limits until my body interferes with my mind. Thinking trumps walking or seeing perfectly. I can deal with a limp. I cannot stand to sense my mind is clouded and unable to focus. I never like it when medications make my mind feel slow, and I really dislike it when pain is the cause of mental molasses. When it is pain slowing the brain, the only option is painkillers.

Maybe it isn't that my mind slows. It is more accurate to describe my mind as overloaded. Still, I'm not as productive as I want to be.

On Tuesday, I limped on into my new campus office.

Understand the university is expanding and this really is an exciting time for students and faculty. However, the construction means I'm in my second temporary office of the school year. The temporary office is now in a 1970s classroom building that has been "fixed up" with new paint and carpet.

I entered the building and was overwhelmed by some sort of flowery scent. I'm not sure why, but the entrance smells like the perfume counter at Macy's. Since I'm prone to migraines, this was not a good first few moments. I'm assuming they didn't want people to smell paint and carpet glue upon entering the building.

I looked about and soon realize the rooms were numbered in the 300s, while my office is in the 100s. Strange, I thought, since I entered from the ground. Then, I remembered that everything here is on a hill, like our current house (not the new one). So, I went looking for an elevator. I didn't know the building layout, though, and only found stairs this first day.

Hobbling down the stairs, with my computer and books, it was a long, painful journey to the "first" floor. Since it has no windows, I'd call it a basement.

My legs, back, shoulder, all ached. My head was splitting (and still is). With other medical issues right now, just not a fun journey. I should have found the elevator.

When I found my office, I realized the university was taking my move from Minnesota somewhat seriously: I was working in gopher hole. Again, this is temporary and for a great reason. A new high-tech building opens in 2012. But, not ideal for my senses and physical limits. Then again, almost nowhere is good when I'm in pain and overly sensitive to everything and anything.

My office is part of a collection of five or six small offices created out of a former classroom. It's a little box with white walls. The lights are motion sensitive, so if you sit and read… the lights go out. And, despite the perfumed entrance, the basement smells of paint and glue.

I found an outlet opposite my desk. My computer power cord didn't reach. In trying to make things work, I pulled the wrong way for my already sore back. Yep, I managed to hurt both my back and my shoulder trying to plug-in a cord. I whined, which echoes in the little room.

Today, Thursday, I took my books and computer in a handcart. I didn't lift anything. I tried to walk as little as possible. Unfortunately, even the few stairs I have to climb to enter my classroom were too much. I was in so much pain that I was dripping sweat. The sweat was running down my forehead, into my eyes.

I had to cut office hours short and head home before 2 p.m. My body is just too sore.

Since getting home, I've had a shower and soaked in a bath. I need to get back to 80 percent or so by next week. I'd like to imagine my students had little idea I was in pain this week. Then again, I find it hard to believe they didn't notice I looked like I was wearing a suit in a sauna.

I love teaching. Even in pain, I do enjoy the class. That's what makes it possible to work through the painful days.


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